NASA releases GRAIL video


January 10, 2013

Still from the JPL GRAIL video (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Still from the JPL GRAIL video (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Image Gallery (4 images)

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released a video transmitted by the GRAIL lunar orbiters during their final days. The dramatic footage was taken on December 14, 2012 as part of a final systems check before the twin spacecraft shut down their instruments in preparation for a controlled impact into a lunar mountain.

Taken from the lead spacecraft Ebb’s MoonKAM (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school Students) cameras, it shows the view of Ebb flying at an altitude of 6 miles (10 km) above the Moon’s northern hemisphere in the vicinity of Jackson crater (22.4°N 163.1°W). The brief videos were made from stills from Ebb’s fore and aft cameras in two sequences made of 931 and 1,489 frames respectively and runs at six times normal in speed in playback.

The GRAIL mission was comprised of two unmanned spacecraft named Ebb and Flow that flew in tight formation as part of a mission to chart lunar gravitational anomalies, and resulted in the most detailed gravitational map of any body in the Solar System. In order to prevent contamination of historic lunar landing sites, the craft were deliberately crashed into a mountain near the lunar north pole on December 17, 2012.

The GRAIL video is below.

Source: JPL

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David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past. All articles by David Szondy

Final systems checkout. Translation "Let's make sure everything still works before we destroy it."

Gregg Eshelman

Is anyone else besides me totally unimpressed with these images? I'm sure NASA learned plenty, but a large part of me wants more, considering all the money, OUR money, our TAX dollars, spent on these missions.

Jeff Michelson

Is there POV video of the moments leading up to impact, like the Ranger images?

John Hagen-Brenner

Ditto Jeff!

I wanted to be impressed, why else would I look? I was hoping to see the video of the actual impact, if there were two, why not have one film the other one all the way to impact and then impact itself?

I obviously don't know much about this mission but perhaps we will be rewarded with some fabulous computer generated gravitational images? Or not?

Dr. Veritas

Jeff... GRAIL wasn't meant to take pretty pics for You. Doubt You would find its REAL mission of any interest..Lots of science stuff with big words and all.

Brian Mcc

The purpose of this wasnt for watching it was to make sure things were working properly before it crashed, so they could get some scientific information out of it, the fact that was have this pictures at all is pretty cool and yeah the quality wasnt that great but i thought it was pretty cool the see a fly-by from that low of an altitude.

I dunno about anyone else but i was thinking as i was watching this that it almost seemed computer generated, im guessing its a combination of low quality camera's aswell as the lack of detail of the lunar surface, and how alot of times in the media when we see lunar surfaces its computer generated(movies, computer games etc).


Well i thought it was great seeing the Moon up close and more than just still shots. I thought the word "dramatic" was well used for this.


This is a rework of the GRAIL’s moon shots along with gravity maps created from the data acquired, enjoy it ;)

Dido Dido

You're right Brian. I'm too dum to unerstind big werds and sinensey stuff.

Jeff Michelson
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